Right before Christmas, when the snow was the best it has been all winter, I went cross country skiing to the soundtrack of pushing powder and panting breath of myself and two dogs.
During the first half mile of this outing, there was a moment when I was frustrated that I wasn’t using this time to catch up on the brilliant content that there is never enough time to take in. I wasn’t finishing my audio book, auditioning songs for class playlists, taking mental notes on the next best podcast episode. I wasn’t touching base on the phone with my best friend or mom or grandpa. I wasn’t using this ski trip as a social outing to catch up with a long lost acquaintance.
It was quiet. I was quiet.
This seemingly simple statement is powerful. Not only am I someone who likes to maximize their learning, their time, their connection, but I am someone who likes to talk. A lot. Someone who is actively working on asking more and speaking less. This activity, skiing in silence, was welcome.
I could wax poetic about the softness of the snow on the pine boughs or the nakedness of the aspen or how GD cute it was to see the puppy jumping through snow that was over his head when he ignored the modeling of the older, wiser dog to stay in the packed tracks-but you can imagine it, right?
The point is, as I was allowing my settings to SET IN around me, my own mind had plenty of space to spin ideas, to work through details, to plan exciting things- to create. I could feel my body and understand that this anatomy was important to physically cue during yoga class. I could visualize a meaningful activity for an upcoming retreat. I could clearly understand what emotion I should communicate to my husband, and I could even see how to repurpose bird wings from a recent hunt.
I wasn’t talking to others to hear them interpret my thoughts. I wasn’t even trying to speak words to the thoughts and feelings that were arising. I was just letting each thought and emotion come as they may.
When I wasn’t filling my brain with other peoples’ ideas, I had space to create my own.
Now unplugging is by far not a revolutionary idea, but is one that is rapidly being ignored.
How often do we let our minds wander? Let ourselves be bored? When was the last time that we didn’t reach for our phone when we were waiting in line or put our headphones in before we worked out or turned the TV on for background noise while we were doing chores?
It’s comforting to fill that silence.
But I welcome that silence more and more lately- running, doing dishes, practicing yoga, driving-letting my own thoughts fill that silence.
Have I found a cure for cancer? No. Have I discovered my life’s purpose? Maybe I’m getting closer. Do I feel that I am moving forward in what authentically beings me joy? Definitely.
Try it out. Whatever activity you are doing, see what beautiful ideas emerge once you take away those insulating blankets of sound.
You have so much to offer.